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Tale of a Black Dog - page 3

A Different Type of Canine

  • December 8, 2005
  • By Russell Pavlicek

On the LWCE show floor, the Black Dog representative showed how the device could spring to life by simply plugging it into a Windows machine. Masquerading as a USB CDROM, the device would offer an autostart file which would activate a Cygnus X11 server and present a window into the mysterious little machine. Short, sweet, and simple.

Unfortunately (at least in the context of the Black Dog), Windows machines are in short supply around my house. And while a solution for using the tiny beast does exist under Linux, it is not nearly as clever. A fairly simple solution exists if you happen to be using Debian with a 2.6 kernel, but I am using a slightly old Mandrake (not even Mandriva) laptop with a 2.4 kernel engine. After a little research on the Black Dog forum on their website, I came up with the following sequence for walking the Dog:

xhost +
# Insert Black Dog
mount /dev/sr/c0b0t0u0 /mnt/tmp
/mnt/tmp/linux/mps300.hotplug
/mnt/tmp/linux-i386/realm_net /mnt/tmp

But, sadly, a problem developed. Barely 15 minutes into my experimentation, the Dog stopped barking. Upon insertion, it produced a solid green light from its carcass and nothing else. The laptop did not see a new device. The flashing lights on the case stopped flashing. My new Dog was dead.

I opened a trouble ticket on the Black Dog website. After a few suggestions from the gentleman providing support, I was notified that I would receive a new pup in the mail. It seemed that my unit had some defective firmware that kept it from starting up and even prevented it from being reinitialized and reloaded.

So, after a couple weeks, I received a new Black Dog in the mail, with instructions on how to return the defective one using a prepaid UPS call sticker and the new shipping carton. This was a strikingly good piece of customer service that I had not expected. I wish all warranty returns were that easy.

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